HL Deb 31 May 1886 vol 306 cc436-7

, in rising to ask Her Majesty's Government, Whether they will take any steps to prevent the sale of imported meat as home produce, which entails great injury on the home producer as well as on the consumer? said, that in asking the Question he must not in any way be taken as objecting to the importation of meat. What he wished to prevent was the sale of imported meat as home produce. By prohibiting sales of that kind they would protect farmers and the public at large against gross frauds. If the Government would bring in a Bill to make the practice illegal, it would do much to benefit the poor in agricultural districts.


(for the Board of Trade), in reply, said, he fully recognized the desirability of securing that articles sold should actually be what they purported to be. Imported meat, however, was very similar to, or rather absolutely identical with, the home produce. That was especially true of meat that was not frozen. Anything, therefore, in the nature of the prohibition desired by the noble Lord opposite would be ineffective, as it would not be possible, even by analysis or otherwise, to distinguish between home produce and fresh imported meat, for there were often no means of discovering with any certainty as to where it had been produced. Indeed, he doubted whether any analyst, although able to detect the difference between oleomargarine and butter, could by any possible process be enabled to say whether a rump-steak came from an animal bred in Leicestershire, Holland, or Texas. If restrictions were placed on the importation of frozen meat, the Australian Colonies would be the chief sufferers, for they contributed by far the largest portion of frozen meat that came to this country. The United States, on the other hand, would benefit largely, for the quantity of fresh meat which they sent to us was immensely greater than their contribution of frozen meat; the change, therefore, would be likely to benefit the United States at the expense of the Colonies. In these circumstances, the Government did not see how they could take any steps in the direction indicated by the noble Lord.